Venus Lionheart: The Witch and The God by Dino Costi is an action-packed Young Adult fantasy novel.
Venus Lionheart isn’t like the other kids in her small sleepy town. At the age of twelve she’s experiencing visions and out-of-body experiences. This troubles her. But when a mysterious man shows up at her house on the last day of school Venus’s life is about to get much more complicated. Galahad tells Venus that she is indeed different. In fact, she’s a witch and there are people who want to harm her.
The hunters are the Grey Men, who are merciless in their pursuit. Venus, along with two friends, flees with Galahad. Her enemy is the Son of God. Not only is Venus young, but she doesn’t understand her powers. Can she stay alive? Better yet, can she save the world?
This young adult fantasy novel has enough action and adventure to delight both young readers and adults. Venus is a wonderful protagonist. She is a shy girl who doesn’t believe in herself. But as the journey continues she learns how strong she is and what she can accomplish. It’s a wonderful message for readers: believe in yourself and great things can happen.
The secondary characters are fantastic and a great addition to the story. Her two young friends, Eric and Sebastian, don’t get along. Eric thinks Sebastian is an oddball and Sebastian prefers being alone. During the journey they grow as well. Galahad is noble, brave, and most of us would want him on our side if we were battling for our lives.
The villains: the Grey Men and the Son of God are not really explored by the author and come across as one-dimensional. This works on one level, making the pursuers more menacing since the reader doesn’t understand them completely or know of their powers. Witnessing their devotion to capture and eliminate Venus is hair-raising on many occasions. The villains fear what Venus represents:
They are afraid because the world is changing, and they are losing their power over the people of the West, as they become less and less interested in religion. Even more of a threat to them is the rise of the other forms of spirituality, those that rely on the self. People are gradually returning to old ways, to becoming one with the Universe again. And the Church does not welcome that.
Some may find this story controversial. The idea that the Vatican is hunting a girl to get rid of her is shocking in today’s world. While the ideas behind the story are divisive, the writing isn’t overly contentious. It’s more about the hunt and battle than the ideas behind everything. Dino Costi had to walk a very fine line and he succeeded. This story could have easily turned into a sermon about who is in the right, but instead he focused on Venus and her companions. They are always front and center, not just the beliefs behind the story making it more accessible to readers of all faiths. All in all the story is well-written, blending history and fantasy, to create an entertaining read.